When you are starting to search through a pool of nannies to find the one who will take care of your children – whether it is for a few hours or full-time during the week – it is important that you complete a thorough screening process. While many potential employers will carefully run background checks of nannies, they may be tempted to skip or rush through another critical step before making the final hiring decision – checking references.
If you are hiring your nanny through a nanny agency, there may be someone in place who can take care of checking references for you. Such a person will be experienced in catching fake references that nannies may sneak into their resumes or in reading between the lines of what references say versus what they really mean. However, nanny agencies can be expensive, and you may instead want to find your nanny through an online service that allows you to do a lot of the legwork on your own. In that case, it is important that you have the proper mindset and tools with which to check the references of the nannies you are considering.
What You Can Learn from Checking References
You can learn a lot from checking references by listening not only to what the references do say but also reading between the lines about what they don't say. Unlike other types of jobs, where someone serving as a reference is limited legally to what he or she can say about the person, those serving as references for nannies may be more forthcoming with information, both good and bad.
When you make the initial call, trust your instinct and listen closely to everything the nanny reference says. Most likely when you are checking references, you will be speaking to a parent just like you who will be eager to tell you about the nanny on both a personal and professional level. Don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions to cover not only the nanny's demeanor and credentials but also details about the family for which she worked. In that way you can delve deeper into the nanny's behavior in situations that most closely resemble those she may encounter with your own family. Pay attention as well to how the nanny reference behaves. The person may be rushed or distracted, and you should factor that into how you feel about the interview.
Questions to Ask When Checking References
Here is a short list of some of the more important questions that you should ask the references of the nannies you are thinking of hiring:
- Was the nanny reliable and dependable? Can you give me an example of when she was/was not?
- What was she like as a person? Was she warm, strict, upbeat, or energetic? Did she get along well with all of the members of your family?
- What additional duties did she perform for your family? How well did she do these?
- How well did she follow directions?
- How comfortable did you feel about her ability to handle an emergency? Did she ever have to react quickly to a medical problem or other issue? How did that go?
- Do you recommend that I hire this person to be a nanny for my children?